Traffic lights to replace stop sign at Chase and Old Westport Roads

Dec 2, 2018

Big changes are in the works for one of Dartmouth’s busiest intersections south of Route 6: Old Westport and Chase Roads.

Starting on December 3, work will commence on an eight-month, state-funded project to replace the three-way intersection controlled by one stop sign with a full set of traffic lights in each direction.

It follows years of planning and debate over how to address increasing traffic and safety concerns at a critical junction used by residents, Route 6 shoppers, and, of course, UMass Dartmouth students.

According to MassDOT, the $677,646 project will address a number of issues with the current intersection. It will include new sidewalks and shoulders for cyclists, and a full set of traffic lights at each of the three ways.

The road is problematic, and traffic conditions were expected to get worse. In 2012, the Southeastern Regional Planning & Economic Development District conducted in in-depth study of the intersection.

According to the report, eight crashes were recorded between 2008 and 2010 at the intersection, above SRPEDD’s ideal threshold for the region. During peak commuting hours, traffic reaches near-breakdown levels, and by 2035 the intersection was projected to reach traffic volumes in which traffic delays would only increase.

A multitude of solutions were proposed. Select Board Chair Shawn McDonald recommended a simple set of three-way stop signs, while SRPEED’s report outlines everything from a roundabout to traffic signals.

A three-way stop was determined to be infeasible because it would have caused long queueing time, and the roundabout plan suffered similar issues, as MassDOT ultimately elected for the traffic light plan.

Hours of construction are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Detours will be required at some point in the process, which will be advertised will in advance. Construction is scheduled to wrap up in August.